My boat was No. 98. I chose it from a box of wooden crafts hand-carved and etched by artist Peter Von Tiesenhausen. The 100 boats are the foundation of his Passages project in celebration of the Bow River which the City of Calgary is celebrating this summer to explore the idea -- How does the Bow connect us to our landscape and to each other?" For Peter Von Tiesenhausen, it is a statement about the "connections among life and water cycles, stewardship, consciousness and spirit."
Cradled in two hands, the wooden boat was smooth and silky; earthy, of the earth, earth filled. There's a slight smell of burnt wood, the figure on each boat has been charred, the area around it filled in with a mixture of sediments collected by the artist along the Bow River drainage basin, ground and painted in to outline the figure.
In Peter's artist's statement for Passages, he writes:
"One strand of water stretches unbroken from glacier to sea
to join with that which encircles the earth.
Branches increase the flow
Tentacles search into the fields and dissipate
Without water there is no wood.
Wood is the tangible residue of life,
A fibre of stored sunshine and mineral,
Fire is both life and purification,
the figure, both birth and death.
One hundred boats released by human hands,
tiny cargoes of silt
field, fish or sea."
It was a great way to spend a beautiful Saturday, under sun, along the river, connected to its flow, feeling its pull as my boat sailed out of my hands to land upon the waters and be carried out of sight.
I don't know where my boat will end up. The hope -- it will be find its way to the Hudson's Bay and return to the flow of life.
For more photos on the day and to see the moment when all 100 of us released our boats simultaneously into the river, visit here.